• 16th June, Southport Pelagic Trip, Southport, Qld, Australia

    Location: Southport, Queensland.
    Date: 16/6/2012
    Vessel: 37 ft monohull, MV Grinner.
    Crew: Craig Newton (skipper)


    Weather conditions: A weakening ridge of high pressure over eastern Queensland brought light NE-NW winds to the SEQ coast. Light winds early, < 10 knots from the north east, increasing to 10-15 knots NW by early afternoon. Fine conditions generally, with only occasional light cloud cover, visibility excellent. maximum air temp. 22 C, barometer 1022 hPa.

    Sea conditions: Calm seas on up to 2 metre swell for most of the day, with seas increasing to about a metre mid afternoon as the winds increased to 15 knots from the NW. Sea surface temperatures 19.6 C at the Seaway, rising to 22.1 C at the Shelf-break and ranging from 21.6 - 22 C in Slope waters.

    Summary:

    Exited the Southport Seaway at 0700 hrs and headed out to Jimís Mountain, approx. 29 nm ENE of Southport. Crossed the shelf-break at approx. 0920 hrs and reached the final drift at 0955 hrs, where we drifted just 4.5 nautical miles over the next 4 hours. Headed back for home at 1330 hrs, arriving back at the Southport Seaway at 1645 hrs, duration of trip 9 hrs 45 mins.

    On leaving the Seaway, there was very little trawler activity with just a couple of stationary trawlers a mile or so outside the Seaway producing just a few Crested Terns and Silver Gulls along with a single Pied Cormorant and Caspian Tern. For the next hour it was mainly Australasian Gannets either foraging or sitting on the sea-surface until at 0755 hrs a large dark bird appeared from the north, a juvenile Northern Giant Petrel, which didnít stop and headed steadily south. An unusual sight at that point was of a line of 20 Silver Gulls heading steadily out to sea in a NE direction, maybe for some fishing activity out wider, not a species
    we generally see well out to sea in this region.

    The first pterodroma of the day in the shape of a Providence Petrel appeared at 0807 hrs also heading south, followed shortly by the only shearwater of the day a lone Fluttering Shearwater. More Providence Petrels, all heading south were appearing in front and astern of the vessel. Normally by the 50 fathom mark we would have a berley bag over the back of the vessel but it ad been left on shore, so we werenít attracting birds astern. From there to the Shelf-break more and more Providence Petrels began to appear along with the occasional Australasian Gannet and while the Gannets appeared to be just foraging the Providence Petrels were all heading in a southerly direction. I might add that the Gannets were also being sighted a bit wider than usual, including beyond the Shelf-break and little bait activity was showing on the sounder.

    Approaching Jimís Mountain the numbers of pterodromas began to increase, with the first Great-winged Petrel making an appearance. On arrival at Jimís and stopping the vessel, the first Fairy Prion appeared, always a harbinger of winter in SEQ waters, followed by more Great-winged and Providence Petrels. At 1025 hrs, the first albatross arrived, a young, probably 2nd year Gibsonís Albatross, along with more Great-winged Petrels and the first Wilson's Storm-Petrel and not long after a foraging Common Noddy. At 1055 hrs another couple Fairy Prions joined the throng with the first couple of Cape Petrels and shortly after the first Black-browed Albatross for the day arrived the rear of the vessel.

    Over the next hour and a half the numbers of Great-winged and Providence Petrels ebbed and flowed, with the numbers of Cape Petrels building up to four and Black-browed Albatross up to six at a time. At 1245 hrs one after another 3 more large albatrosses appeared with two Gibsonís Albatrosses of varying ages and a young male Antipodean Albatross. We had already stayed out longer than normal but couldnít leave with more birds arriving, when at 1300 hrs a rarity for SEQ waters a White-headed Petrel arrived and really performed for several minutes around the vessel. Shortly afterwards the bird of the day arrived, a near adult Light-mantled Sooty Albatross, which came in from the north and fronted up to the vessel performing several close circles around the boat, the cameras were going off like gatlings. Around this time a rather larger and more mature ďgreatĒ albatross came in, an Ďexulansí Wanderer.

    Just as we were about to leave at 1330 hrs a worn immature Light-mantled Sooty Albatross appeared and gave enough reasonable views to snap off a few shots, along with a juvenile Gibsonís Albatross. As we started to pull away yet another immature Light-mantled Sooty appeared but in much better plumage, about 5 minutes after the other one had departed south. On the way back over the shelf a few Australasian Gannets were noted, with the last Pterodroma, a Providence Petrel
    sighted at 1500 hrs, halfway back across the Shelf. The Light-mantled Sooty Albatross is the 81st species of seabird recorded from Southport.

    Species:

    Wilsonís Storm-Petrel - 5 (1)
    Wandering Albatross - 1
    Gibson's Albatross - 4 (3)
    Antipodean Albatross - 1
    Black-browed Albatross - 11 (6)
    Light-mantled Sooty Albatross - 3 (1)
    Northern Giant-Petrel - 1
    Cape Petrel - 8 (4)
    Fairy Prion - 6 (2)
    Fluttering Shearwater - 1
    White-headed Petrel - 1
    Great-winged Petrel - 112 (30)
    Providence Petrel - 68 (10)
    Australasian Gannet - 35 (4)
    Pied Cormorant - 1
    Common Noddy - 3 (2)
    Caspian Tern - 1
    Crested Tern - 19 (15)
    Silver Gull - 60 (40)

    The next trip on July 21st is fully booked at the moment but there are
    some vacancies for August 18th. Contact Paul Walbridge on PH (W) 07 3139
    4584 (H) 07 3256 4124 E-mail:Paul_Walbridge@health.qld.gov.au
    Cheers Paul W.